February 7, 2017 @ 8:41 pm | Filed under:


Reposted from Facebook, where I have had a lot to say, in these past weeks, about the DeVos nomination.

My objection to Betsy DeVos’s nomination was about, as I have expressed here so often, her absolute lack of public education experience and her shocking gaps in knowledge. Now that she’s been confirmed, you can bet I’ll be focusing on matters of policy. We have some serious watchdogging to do.

And you know what, I know not everyone here agrees with me on all matters of policy. Of course not. I can respect someone who takes a well-articulated, well-considered position even when I believe the position is dead wrong. But I cannot respect a Secretary of Education who doesn’t know the difference between measuring growth vs proficiency, and appears not to grasp what IDEA is and why a federal law protecting the rights of students with disabilities was necessary in the first place.

(That history is sobering. In 1970, five years before IDEA was passed, only one in five children with disabilities was educated in U.S. schools. Many states actually had laws excluding certain students from school, including students who were blind, deaf, or cognitively disabled. Today my son receives excellent, individualized instruction, adaptive physical education, speech therapy, and audiology/hearing aid services in our neighborhood middle school. The intensive physical therapy he received via Early Intervention (IDEA Part C) from age four months on is almost certainly the reason he can walk today.)

I don’t take IDEA for granted. The past two weeks have shown us how rapidly and dramatically things can change. That’s why I’ll be watching vigilantly. And speaking up, speaking out, marching, calling, mobilizing—whatever it takes.

Betsy DeVos, my eye is on you.

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9 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Tabatha says:

    “The intensive physical therapy he received via Early Intervention (IDEA Part C) from age four months on is almost certainly the reason he can walk today.)” — such an important thing to note. My daughter recently learned ASL so she could communicate with a sweet boy she is “lunch buddies” with. (His mom, who is very poor and has issues of her own, hasn’t learned it.) He’s a terrific kid, and he deserves a proper education.
    In the current administration, making money trumps taking care of Americans, so keeping vigilant is the only option.

  2. Ellie says:

    Thank you for sharing this here Lissa! I am not on FB and am very interesting in hearing your perspective and experience and thoughts on this administration!

  3. Penny says:

    Also not on FB and echoing Ellie’s thanks and Tabatha’s determination to be vigilant. Indeed, it truly is the only option, as she says, but I have faith that it is a very powerful one!

  4. Edith Hope Fine says:

    Lissa, Millions of us protested this one-of-the-worst-of-the-worst of the unqualified appointments, precisely for the reasons you articulated. Let’s change your last line to “OUR eyes are on you.” And let’s let this new Secretary of Education know that by our vigilance and continued flow of postcards, letters to the editor, etc.

  5. tee+d says:

    Two siblings I have who were part of the IDEA early intervention care. TWO. And imagining their world without the infant sign language, the early speech and physical therapy that went on into middle school – well, I just don’t want to imagine that world for anyone else.

    Even childless, my eye is on that woman.

  6. Mary says:

    I hear you, and I hope that is enough. I think we can be different and still have things in common. Please know that I am being sincere and not snarky. Don’t tear my words apart because they were hard for me to write. I can turn away if that is what you want, but I love your book recommendations. I read “Murder For Her Majesty,” and I loved it and am trying to get my 9-year old to read it. He is finishing the Ranger’s Apprentice series, so he has his priorities. I think your experiences have been different, but also similar, to mine lately. I don’t do facebook, so I am limited. But I have experienced some real intolerance in sharing my opinions if they differ from others. Maybe I should just stop reading blogs that offer a different view of the world, but I haven’t yet. Just to be clear, I am not telling you that you shouldn’t share more than book recommendations. Wow how narrow-minded of me would that be.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Mary, do please continue to visit here. I meant it when I said I never expect everyone to agree with me and I respect a well-considered argument even when I disagree.

      If there’s any single image that describes my world view, I would say it is the open door. I want us to open doors to communication, to empathy, to understanding. I believe one way we do that is by sharing stories.

  7. Lindsey says:

    Weighing in from the public school side of things–my husband teaches middle school science (we also homeschool–not incompatible, but then we don’t homeschool for religious or moral reasons which are motivations I think are NOT very compatible with public schools). Let me tell you, the Devos confirmation is a total slap in the face to educators. My god they work hard. My kids sometimes don’t see their dad for 48 hrs because he leaves before they get up and gets home after they go to bed. His heart is ripped out by 100 kids daily, half of whom don’t have parental involvement, or even parents at home. Somehow he is supposed to help them grow up since nobody else cares and learn some science along the way. We reconsider his profession every year–is it the right thing for us, for our family? Not because public schools are failing, far from it, we are in a great school district with good teacher support and adequate pay–but because he is worn out from within and beleaguered from without. CAN YOU IMAGINE a job where you are the butt of jokes from the right and constantly criticized for failures beyond your control? That’s public school teaching in a nutshell.

  8. selvi says:

    I will be very happy to read what you have to say about this issue, and many others. It takes a lot of work to follow, be informed about and form opinions about all the various issues that are coming up now. Having a sense of who you are, your priorities and your non-dogmatic attitude to things makes your commentary very helpful for my own efforts to try to understand what is happening. I think that this is a common theme for many people as of late, we have to begin to engage with each other on questions that we have previously avoided because it can be uncomfortable. But they are important questions to discuss.